If you’re looking for one word to describe the results of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, it would be unpredictable.
With three quarterbacks drafted in the first 32 picks, a huge rush on defensive backs and a plethora of surprise selections, football fans were treated to a wild example of why the NFL is the best league in the United States.
Here is an easy-to-view guide to the first round, featuring grades for every move.
|2014 NFL Draft Results and Grades|
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina||A|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn||A|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles||QB||UCF||C|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson||B|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo||A|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M||A|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M||B|
|8||Cleveland Browns||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State||B|
|9||Minnesota Vikings||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA||C|
|10||Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina||B|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||OT||Michigan||C|
|12||New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU||B|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh||B|
|14||Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech||C|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier||OLB||Ohio State||C|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin||OL||Notre Dame||B|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||C.J. Mosley||ILB||Alabama||A|
|18||New York Jets||Calvin Pryor||S||Louisville||A|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James||OT||Tennessee||C|
|20||New Orleans Saints||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State||A|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Alabama||B|
|22||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M||B|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford||DE||Auburn||C|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State||B|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett||CB||TCU||B|
|26||Philadelphia Eagles||Marcus Smith||OLB||Louisville||C|
|27||Arizona Cardinals||Deone Bucannon||S||Washington State||C|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||Florida State||B|
|29||New England Patriots||Dominique Easley||DT||Florida||C|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward||S||Northern Illinois||B|
|31||Denver Broncos||Bradley Roby||CB||Ohio State||C|
|32||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville||C|
Biggest Surprise on Day 1: Philadelphia Eagles
New head coach Chip Kelly has been heralded as an offensive genius, but there are major questions about his defensive style and if it will translate to the NFL.
After struggling last season maintaining any consistency in the pass rush, the franchise made up its mind and focused on outside linebackers that would fit the 3-4 defensive scheme. With the No. 26 overall pick, Philadelphia picked Louisville standout Marcus Smith.
While many fans immediately panicked, Ike Reese of 610WIP helped them off the ledge:
The Eagles were originally slotted in the No. 22 position of the first round, but a deal with the Cleveland Browns moved them back four spots and netted them the No. 83 overall selection as a consolation prize.
Kelly told Reuben Frank of CSN Philly about trading down and the decision to bring in Smith:
We thought it was big just because we wanted Marcus, and we felt like if we went back just enough we could get that extra pick. We don’t know who that guy is, but last year that guy was Bennie Logan, so if you have a chance to go back just enough and still get the guy you want and get a Bennie Logan-type player, that’s a great deal for us.
Smith has incredibly long arms (34 inches) and an explosive knack for finding the quarterback, but he has been troubled by evading blocks and shedding them. In the NFL, Smith must learn to roll with the blocks before shedding and making tackles.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com breaks down Smith’s tangibles:
This is a player who was a quarterback in high school before making the transition to linebacker in 2010. With elite speed off the edge and a raw upside as he continues to develop, Smith is the ideal pass-rush specialist that Philadelphia has lacked since making the change to the 3-4 defense.
There were many experts and teams that felt this was a reach, but the team got a solid player that fits a need in their scheme, according to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com:
Add Smith to a group of outside linebackers like Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin, and the Eagles’ weakness could become one of its biggest strengths as the team enters its second year under the new scheme.
There is no doubt that this was a risky pick, but with Philadelphia collecting another pick and still getting the player the franchise was targeting, the organization must feel like this was a small victory Thursday.
Overall Grade: C
Stats via NFL.com.